Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Anniversary Reading

It is the 4th anniversary of my blogs this month and I am honored to have received an award from reflections at the same time! See here for award details and I would love all readers of my blogs to take it up and follow the steps as outlined.

So what have I been reading amidst all the rumble? Wait, wait,wait. First things first! Hope everyone is having a good stable New Year so far and wishes for it to remain so for the rest of it.

I have finished quite a few books and  I will add them here in a  few posts as always.

The Zahir

It took me a while to realize that Pauolo Coelho is a household name to the reading public of the Indian subcontinent (and the rest of the world of course)  through his famous novel The Alchemist. I saw it on the library shelf but my hands went for The Zahir instead. Some critics think this is  not up to his usual standards. I liked the book partly due to the integrity with which Pauolo handled the pitfalls of married life. Looks like the work is very much autobiographical.

Not sure if a marriage can survive that many affairs but Coelho's honest prose makes it a possibility to read on for more. As Coelho so painstakingly points out, most of us have encountered living with a zahir. Be it human, an inanimate object or a goal of one kind or another, it is there. Unless we find a way to disarm the zahir so that it won't overwhelm our lives, we may never chart the true and free path that our lives should take. The narrator is an author and he talks about the books that he could write only after his wife came into his life. He realized this rather late. From their description the books are essentially The Alchemist and The Pilgrimage. The zahir here is the author's wife who left him to look for the presence of true love in this world. This presence is addressed as a Lady and the book has a prayer to Mother Mary in the beginning pages but not sure if a connection is intended.. It is dedicated with a loving tribute to his wife and muse Christina. Like Odysseus's journey to Ithaca  all of Coelho's books appear to be about a journey to somewhere.  Here our author's journey starts off as a search for his wife because he thinks he loves her and because of that cannot live without her. He sinks in the realization that she'd been his muse all along and gets so obsessed in finding her that she becomes his zahir.

The trip eventually teaches him universal love and turns his journey into a  search to find himself before anything else. This helps him to make the discovery that  he loves his wife for who she is rather than what she is to him. This is a very important message and it is a learning process. Some people are born into this world with love as their anchor which enables them to love without reservation. Some others are not like this but it is in them to be discovered.  If they are lucky enough to recognize the chances, they will be able to take that journey to find the true love of the world and through it contentment. I feel all of us are on this journey in one way or another. Some find it earlier, some find it later, some may find it and enjoy it without being aware and yet some other may never find it. The book is thought provoking and is a great, expanding your heart kind of read.

Vinegar hill

This is a grim novel and therefore not for the airports I'd say. Take it up when you really need a serious read. I wouldn't have braved it after the first chapter if I wasn't so relaxed when I started it. No, it is not a gory, ghost story. Just raw lives of a family through the eyes of the young tired  mother of two school going kids and her husband. It is his family that makes the grim so depressing. A. Manette Ansay's strong, unwavering language tells the events of the story with the panache that it deserves. So read it definitely and you will find that it was not a wasted effort.

Hugo: The Movie and The Book

So we were all set to watch TinTin over a November weekend when we came across the little fine print that said it will be released in the US of A only towards the end of Dec. So what do we do? Like any law abiding citizens we picked the next available children's movie which was Hugo. Plans were made and time was available and we simply had to watch something on the silver screen. And what a movie it was! I knew it had my husband at the clock and gears. It had me at the view of the panoramic old train station, my son with the automaton and  my daughter with the girl who read a lot like the avid reader she's turning into. Directed by that maker of grand movies Martin Scorsese, this gem of a movie stars Ben Kingsley which should seal the deal for anyone sitting on z fence:-) I can't believe we would have missed this had it not been for TinTin being released late. The boy reporter was not forgotten and we watched him later on during the holiday trip to visit relatives in the east. In the middle of writing this note I heard over the radio that Hugo captured the most Oscar movie nominations. Go Scorsese!

After watching this epic movie that has two important crowd pleasers we came home and discussed it for a while. The first half had this majestic and crowded Paris train station full of old time monster clocks that ran on gears and levers that needed winding.This was done by Hugo, the young boy who is the movie's namesake and the last half was a treatise on silent movies based mainly on the life of Georges Meliez. The next day my son brought home the book from his school library! I thought I wouldn't read it but curiosity got the best of me and it was all for the good. Brain Selznick's book is an instant classic on its precise and large scale illustrations alone. As you will see from the book, Selznick is first an illustrator and then a story writer. Whether you read the book or watch the movie, don;t forget to go to his web site for a unique experience.